The Economics of the African Slave Trade By Anika Francis In Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust, John Henrik Clarke asserts that the voyages of Christopher Columbus marked the starting point of world capitalism and the beginning of Europe's colonial domination of the world. Columbus set in motion an act of criminality that influences our very life today. Clarke described the period between 1400-1600 as the point in history when Europe freed itself from the lethargy of the Middle Ages. During this period, Europe witnessed the renewal of nationalism as well as the political transformation from feudalism to nation states through the centralization of power by the monarchs. The African slave trade played an important role in the stabilization of Europe's economy, its transition to capitalism, the development of the nation state, and the establishment of their imperial empires. The opening of the Atlantic led to the development of Europe's commercial empire and industrial revolution. While Ghana was the headquarters of the African slave trade, Tropical America was the real center of the trade. Thirty-six of the forty-two slave fortress were located in Ghana. Aside from Ghana, slaves were shipped from eight coastal regions in Africa including Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia region, Gold Coast, Bight of Benin, Bight of Biafra, Central Africa, and Southeast Africa (from the Cape of Good Hope to the Cape of Delgado, including Madagascar). The slave trade had the greatest impact upon central and western African. According to James Rawley, West Africa supplied 3Ú5ths of the slaves for exportation between 1701-1810. Half of the slaves were exported to South America, 42% to the Caribbean Islands, 7% to British North America, and 2% to Central America. The continuing demand for African slaves' labor arose from the development of plantation agriculture, the long-term rise in prices and consumption of sugar, and the demand for miners. Not only did Africans represent skilled laborers, but they were also experts in tropical agriculture. Consequently, they were well-suited for plantation agriculture. The high immunity of Africans to malaria and yellow fever compared with Europeans and the indigenous peoples made them more suitable for tropical labor. While white and red labor were used initially, Africans were the final solution to the acute labor problem in the New World. The economic systems which dominated the African slave trade reflected the transitions in Europe's economic systems. Initially, mercantilist views characterized the conduct of the slave trade. The primary purpose of mercantilism, an economic system which developed during the transition of Europe from feudalism to nation-states, was to unify and increase the power and monetary wealth of a nation through strict government regulation of the national economy. Therefore, 16th century organization of the trade was entrusted to a company which was given the sole right by a particular nation to trade slaves and to erect and maintain forts. However, these monopolistic companies had two major opponents: the planter in the colonies, who complained of insufficient quantity and poor quality of high priced slaves, and the merchants at home. The failure of monopolies to deliver enough slaves led to free trade in the 18th century. While it is easy to analyze the various economic systems utilized in the African slave trade, it is far more difficult to determine a precise estimate of how profitable the trade was. The slave trade was one of the most important business enterprises of the 17th century. The nation states of Europe stabilized themselves and developed their economy mainly at the expense of African people. During the latter half of the century; Colbert, a Frenchman, stated that, "no commerce in the world produces as many advantages as that of the slave trade"(Williams, From Columbus to Castro, 144). The wealth of the New World in the form of sugar, tobacco, metals, gold, cotton, etc. was extracted by African labor and then exported from the colonies through the capitalistic enterprise of western Europe. Western Europe drew profits from the trade in slaves, commodities produced, service of shipping, the develop of new industries based on processing raw materials, financing, and insurance. According to Eric Williams, no other commerce required so large a capital as the slave trade which kept the wheels of metropolitan industry turning. Cities such as Liverpool, Amsterdam, and Bristol were built upon slave labor. The capital and raw materials derived from the African slave trade contributed significantly to the Commercial and Industrial revolution. According to James Rawley, the "black slavery was essential to the carrying on of commerce, which in turn was fundamental to the making of the modern world"(TransAtlantic Slave Trade, 4). In other words, the modern world was built upon the blood, sweat, and tears of our African ancestors.